Review: Starbucks’ Teavana Ready-to-Drink Teas
Covers Products: Mango Black Tea, Peach Green Tea, Passion Tango, Pineapple Berry Blue
Launched in February 2017, Starbucks’ Teavana ready to drink (RTD) “Craft Iced Teas” are a top-notch offering produced through a partnership with beer giant Anheuser-Busch InBev (ABI).
The line is launching in the Northeast U.S. and comes out of the gate
The flavors are well-crafted -- although we’re not sure we’d call them “craft” -- and fit very much in the style of what you’ll find in Starbucks or Teavana retail outlets. As far as RTD products go, they are somewhat of a throwback to the days where more straightforward sugar-sweetened teas were the norm. To that end, they are refreshing and enjoyable and they don’t make any promises about functionality or contain any “super” ingredients. These products seem all about delivery enjoyment through a formulation that contains a modest amount of calories and sugar.
For our favorites, we’d pick the two more traditional style teas, Mango Black Tea and Peach Green Tea. And of those two, Peach Green Tea, which features lemongrass, lemon verbena, and spearmint (along with natural flavor for the peach), is complex in its flavor profile but still very light and refreshing. Mango Black Tea is a straightforward flavored black tea, which, despite having its mango come from flavoring, is both accurate tasting and balanced.
The other two flavors, which are the two herbal tea varieties, still need some work. Specifically, the lighter taste of the herbal tea tastes like it is competing with the added flavorings. In both cases, the flavorings win out and the products don’t have the same balance that you’ll find in the black and green tea varieties.
Packaging is another strong part of this product. The products use a tall and somewhat narrow 14.5 oz. glass bottle. There are clear labels on the front and an opaque label on the back. This helps give a really clean presentation on the front of the bottle while making the nutrition facts and ingredients super easy to read. As for the design, it’s minimalist, with a one color approach that feels appropriate for a premium tea product. However, we wonder if they shouldn’t have placed the Starbucks logo on the front rather than the back as this has much greater brand equity than the Teavana name.Overall, Starbucks and ABI have what appears to be the makings a product that can compete in the mainstream premium RTD tea set. While there’s still room to evolve the flavor profiles, the packaging and positioning of the product seem spot on.